The fourth quarter 2013 consolidated the moderate trend improvement recorded in previous quarters. Once again, the trend differs between foreign markets (expanding) and domestic market (shrinking) A positive element is improved confidence, suggesting that 2014 might be a better year after so many years with a declining trend. However, it is still evident that, to achieve significant structural growth, domestic consumption must necessarily expand.

Such remarks emerge from the trend survey carried out by Acimall’s Studies office, based on a statistic sample that represents the entire industry of wood and wood-based materials technology. In the last three months of 2013, the Italian industry achieved a 4.8 percent increase compared to the same period of the previous year. Foreign orders grew by 7.3 percent, while the domestic market decreased by 5.7 percent. The book of orders is at 2.2 months, while prices have been growing by 1.0 percent since the beginning of the year. In the October-December 2013 period, turnover increased (plus 0.4 percent versus the same period in 2012).

Based on the indications of the sample companies, the quality survey gave the following results: 36 percent indicated a positive production trend, 41 percent stable and 23 percent decreasing. Employment is considered stationary by 91 percent of the sample and falling by the remaining 9 percent.

Available stocks are stationary according to 55 percent, decreasing according to 41 percent and growing according to the remaining 4 percent.

The forecast survey outlines possible short-term industry trends. There is moderate optimism about foreign markets, supported by order figures. The attitude towards Italian customers is wait-and-see: foreign orders will record growth in the next quarter according to 36 percent of the sample, while they are expected to stay at the same level according to 59 percent. The remaining 5 percent expects a drop (balance is plus 31).

The outlook on the domestic market indicates a decline according to 13 percent of the sample, while 73 percent expect domestic sales to remain stable. 14 percent of companies predict short-term growth (balance is plus 1).

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Luca Rossetti